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After a decade, custodian gets teaching degree

Susan Notes:

Hats off to Ken Hendrick--and his wife.

Interesting, isn't it, that someone who has spent this much time working in schools mentions patience as an important teacherly quality? How many times have you heard corporate-politicos praise patience? Or offer a standardized test that will measure patience.

Give U. S. Department of Education functionaries 100 guesses for important teacher qualities, and what are the chances "patience" would end up on their global economy lists?

by Associated Press

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. ΓΆ€” In 1999, shortly after the birth of his daughter Destiny, school custodian Ken Hendrick of Klamath Falls remembers pondering his future.

"I was thinking, maybe I should do something different," Hendrick, now 41, said.

A year later he was enrolled in night classes at Klamath Community College, beginning nearly a decade of blending school with family and work.

"I talked with my wife and said I really enjoy kids and working with kids and said I'd like to be a teacher," he recalled. "She said to go for it."

"My wife has to tell me, 'Do your homework,' " he said with a laugh.

The payoff came last Friday, when Hendrick was among a dozen graduates of a Concordia University program through KCC to receive a bachelors degree in elementary education.

In September he'll take a leave of absence from his job at Conger Elementary School and begin student teaching.

When that ends in December Hendrick will resume duties at Conger unless he finds a teaching job.

He is a Klamath Falls native and was a school dropout.

"I was a goof-off," he said. Hendrick earned his high school equivalency degree at age 21 and tried taking classes at Oregon Institute of Technology, but wasn't ready.

That changed after Destiny's birth. "When an adult goes back to school, I think they're a lot more serious about it," he told the Klamath Falls Herald and News.

It wasn't easy. Hendrick missed spending time with the couples' older children, Ashley, Brittany and Courtney, now 21, 19 and 14.

"Because of homework, I had to pass up activities. It's been challenging. The support of my wife and my family helped make it happen. I'm showing my kids how important an education is," he said.

Conger Principal Barbara Headden, who has worked with Ken Hendrick for five years, has nothing but praise.

"He's just a natural with kids," she said. "They gravitate toward him, so that's one of his biggest strengths. I really believe he's going to be one of those teachers that kids will look back on and say, 'Mr. Ken was a teacher who made a difference in my life.' He has a full-time job, he has a family, he has things he does outside of school. It's so impressive he's stuck with it with all the commitments he has," she said.

Hendrick plans to be an elementary school teacher and hopes, despite a shaky job market, to find a job in Klamath Falls.

"I love kids. I'm patient," he said. "I think I have a lot to offer them. I remember what I was like as a kid growing up, and I get drawn to those kinds of kids. They've got the same potential as everyone else. They just haven't learned to harness it yet."

— Associated Press
The Dailly News Online



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